They then divided the people at random and asked some to compose an email where they apologized for their actions, or compose an email refusing to apologize.
“We do find that apologies do make apologizers feel better, but the interesting thing is that refusals to apologize also make people feel better and, in fact, in some cases it makes them feel better than an apology would have,” Okimoto said in an interview with NPR. Okimoto said that people who refused to apologize actually ended up with an increased sense of integrity.
In both cases, Okimoto said, refusing to apologize provided psychological benefits. “When you refuse to apologize, it actually makes you feel more empowered,” he said. “That power and control seems to translate into greater feelings of self-worth.”
The research reminds me of Sigmund Freud and his description of the anal stage of development. Freud, the father of psychotherapy (it has no mother), posited that overly controlling parents can lead the child to become an anal-retentive personality.
If the parents tried forcing the child to learn to control their bowel movements, the child may react by asserting their own power. They do this by either deliberately holding or releasing their bowels in a manner most irritating to authority figures.
Substitute bowel movement for apology in this research and you have a good summary of what a silly guide this is for adults. Shame on NPR for covering it so uncritically.
Good Apology Is Satisfying
My research demonstrates over and over again that when you hurt somebody, the most powerful and satisfactory thing you can do to liberate yourself is to apologize. The more complete and undefended the apology, the better you will feel in the long run. The long run is the only run with a future.
That’s because only by acknowledging, naming, and ultimately accepting your mistakes, are you able to embrace your humility and make room for your true self, imperfect and all too human, just like everyone else.
Or you can just hold it in and hold out for a world in which constipation is an attractive quality.